The key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. When a person gets vaccinated against a disease, their risk of infection is also reduced – so they are far less likely to spread the disease to others.
The City understands that there is currently a plethora of information on vaccinations and various opinions on whether to vaccinate or not.
Below is some information sourced from the World Health Organization and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to provide residents with some answers to frequently asked questions.
How COVID-19 vaccines work
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness.
Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection. But with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of "memory" T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.
It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
Sometimes after vaccination the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building immunity.
Who should get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.
Should I get tested for COVID-19 before taking the vaccine?
No, you do not need to test for COVID-19 infection before receiving the vaccine. If a person is feeling sick or has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it is better to wait for 30 days after recovery or after a ten-day quarantine has been completed.
If I have had confirmed COVID-19 infection, should I be vaccinated?
Yes. There is good evidence to show that persons who have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 after infection will develop stronger immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 after vaccination. Evidence has shown that some people with mild or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 do not develop strong antibody responses. Therefore, vaccination after COVID-19 infection is a way to strengthen our immune responses and further reduce our chances of getting COVID-19.
Why should you wait for 30 days after recovering from COVID-19 to be vaccinated?
The natural immune response to COVID-19 will be boosted through vaccination. Having at least 30 days between infection and vaccination would lead to an enhanced boosting of immunity.
Can a SARS-COV-2 vaccine give me COVID-19 infection?
No. When a COVID-19 vaccine is injected into the shoulder muscle, the vaccine contains only a small part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the "spike protein gene". This piece of the gene cannot replicate (grow) on its own, nor can it cause damage to the lungs that an infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes. It is biologically impossible for a vaccine to give a person COVID-19 infection. If a person develops COVID-19 infection within seven to ten days after receiving the vaccine, this means that the person was exposed to SARS-CoV-2 before receiving the vaccine, and that they were in the incubation (window) period.
Can chronic medication affect vaccine efficacy?
From what we know about how vaccines work, the chance of a negative reaction between the vaccine and any medication is very small. Taking medication is not a reason to delay getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with chronic medical conditions are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 and will benefit from the vaccine, which will decrease the risk of severe disease. Oral anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant medications, like cortisone, might interfere with vaccination and make it less effective.
What should I do and expect after getting vaccinated?
Stay at the place where you got vaccinated for at least 15 minutes afterwards, just in case you have an unusual reaction so health workers can help you.
Check when you should come in for a second dose, if needed. Most of the vaccines available are two-dose vaccines. Check with your care provider whether you need to get a second dose and when you should get it. Second doses help boost the immune response and strengthen immunity.
In most cases, minor side effects are normal. Common side effects after vaccination, which indicate that a person's body is building protection to COVID-19 infection, include the following:
- Arm soreness
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
Contact your care provider if there is redness or tenderness (pain) where you got the shot that increases after 24 hours, or if side effects do not go away after a few days.
If you experience an immediate severe allergic reaction to a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive additional doses of the vaccine. It is extremely rare for severe health reactions to be directly caused by vaccines.
Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol, before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent side effects is not recommended. This is because it is not known how painkillers may affect how well the vaccine works. However, you may take paracetamol or other painkillers if you do develop side effects such as pain, fever, headache or muscle aches after vaccination.